Power Ranking Hilton Head Island’s Beaches

Time is precious. If you’re going to spend any of it at the beach, don’t you want to make sure you’re spending at the best beach possible? Don’t you owe it to yourself to seek out only the finest oceanside experiences this world has to offer?

OK, so maybe we’re being a little overdramatic. But when the question came up of power ranking Hilton Head Island’s beaches, we knew we’d have our work cut out for us. After all, it’s not like there are any bad beaches on Hilton Head Island. And what makes a beach great is a subjective thing: one person might thrive on the crowds and energy at Coligny, while another might want nothing more than some sand and solitude.

What you really owe to yourself is the chance to visit each one and develop your own power rankings. Until then, only one of us has a blog so we’re going to talk about ours today.

Islanders Beach Park

The amenities are top-notch here, with its picnic pavilion and playground, its showers and its awesome alligator bike rack. But sadly, we’re putting this one at the bottom of our stack due to the permit parking for locals only. If you don’t have the sticker, the walk isn’t worth it.


Alder Lane Beach Access 

The amenities are bare-bones but that only adds to the charm of this sleeper. Quiet and tranquil as anywhere you’re likely to find on Hilton Head Island. It’s hard to believe you’re just a few minutes away from the crowds of Coligny Beach.


Mitchelville Beach Park 

Mitchelville goes neck-and-neck with Alder Lane in terms of solitude and peacefulness, but gets an edge over Alder due to its sand and its history. Even after Matthew, Mitchelville is one wide stretch of beach, giving you plenty of room to roam. And being situated close to historic Mitchelville, it’s practically like summer school.


Burkes Beach 

The definition of bare-bones, Burkes Beach is basically just a few parking spots and a sandy trail leading off to the beach. Mostly known for the massive folly to one end, the currents on this beach make it less a spot for swimming and more a spot for letting the dogs run loose off-season and exploring the winding banks along the folly as it changes with the tides.


Folly Field Beach Park 

There’s not a ton here besides a parking lot and a boardwalk winding past some bathrooms. However, Folly Field hits the sweet spot in terms of crowds (you won’t have to fight for towel space) and climate (great swimmability, and the winds make for some excellent kite flying).


Driessen Beach Park 

Rich with amenities, Driessen Beach Park has a little bit of everything for you. The nearby park lets you get a pick-up game of ultimate frisbee or soccer going, while the playground lets the kids run around a little bit before they jump in. The water offers good swimability in a park that doesn’t skimp on the extras. A word of warning: Keep valuables out of sight. This very popular beach attracts plenty of beachgoers, as well as one or two stick-fingered guests.


Coligny Beach Park 

It’s the obvious pick, but it’s the obvious pick for a reason. This is The Beach. When tourists ask “which way to the beach,” they’re asking which way to Coligny Beach Park. (The answer to that question, of course, is always, “It’s an island. Keep driving in any direction.”) Ample parking, except possibly at the height of summer, and a slew of brand-new bathrooms, benches, swings and of course the massive splash pad for kids lead you to the best beach on Hilton Head Island.

To read more about the beach Southern beaches and everything that makes the south a great place to live, subscribe now or pick up the June/July issue of South magazine.